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The Art of Cooking

Curator Hanne Mugaas dishes on the group exhibition of food-related works

by Phuong-Cac Nguyen
on 27 April 2012

Our relationship with food knows no end, as we elevate it to divine status, play with it, turn it into nonconventional formats and even demand that it entertains us. This intimacy provides the theme behind The Art of Cooking, a group art exhibition opening 27 April 2012 at Royal T in Los Angeles that features the work of 48 artists—including Olaf Bruenning and Kenny Scharf—alongside a schedule of performances. We spoke with curator Hanne Mugaas about the concept behind the show, which runs through 1 August.

Where did the concept for the show come from?

I guess that food is something that is very basic; it's right in front of you several times a day. To me, the endless depictions of food and the explosion of food blogs seem to be about lifestyle. You are what you eat, right? While researching artists and artworks for the show, I realized that most artists have at least one work that has to do with food.

Art-of-Cooking-1.jpg Art-of-Cooking-1b.jpg
Can food ever move so far in art realm that it makes us forget what it is?

I don't think so. At least not if you spend a lot of time with the artwork. This also depends on the intention of the artist, of course. Maybe the intention was to make us forget.

Can you highlight some of the artists and pieces in the show?

One group of artists who work primarily with food is White Zinfandel, which publishes a magazine about art and food. Each issue has a specific theme: TV dinners, food fights—and they organize conceptual dinners for the launch of each one. They invite artists to explore each theme, and the result is included in the magazine. Another artist is Viktor Kopp, who paints chocolate squares; although rather than exploring chocolate, he explores the grid of painting through chocolate.

Your family is involved in the restaurant business. Did you make a jump from this universe into art?

I didn't really jump from food to art. My family are all working with, or did work with, food, but I was never interested in learning to cook. My dad owns restaurants, my brother is a chef, and my sister is the manager of a restaurant.

What did you learn from your personal background in restaurants and food that you brought into your work as a curator, and vice versa?

From food to art—I basically grew up in restaurants, so I learned the work ethic and the social aspect, which are both similar to the art world. From art to food—I've been consulting on creative aspects of my dad's business, although he's very creative himself so he doesn't need much help.

What other unique angle to food did you discover while putting together this show that you'd like to explore in another exhibit one day?

I am planning to make a cookbook including the favorite recipes of the artists in the show. I would also like to do an art show in one of my dad's restaurants in Norway, and bring in artists like Scott and Tyson Reeder to do a series of food-related performances, or White Zinfandel to do a conceptual dinner party.

Royal T
"The Art of Cooking"
Now-1 August 2012
8910 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232

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